The Indycar boys met last Sunday at the Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham Alabama for the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama— the third leg of the Indycar season. Once again qualifying was dominated by the Team Penske Chevys. Will Power grabbed his second pole of the year with Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud starting second and third respectively. Scott Dixon was Honda’s fastest driver and started fourth. Power took the green flag and drove like a man possessed with Castroneves in second. Power totally dominated the first half of the 90 lap event. In the second half of the race Castroneves dropped back into the second five and Pagenaud held second with Dixon holding third. After lousy luck in the first two races it seemed that Will Power was going to get a victory. On lap 62 a caution light brought most of the field, including Power, in for their final fuel stop. Power returned to the fray to see his old nemesis Charley Kimball leading the race. Kimball hadn’t stopped during the caution. In the meantime, Penske’s newest driver Josef Newgarden had worked his way up to third place. On lap 76 Kimball had to pit for fuel, giving the lead back to Power with Newgarden in second. Power’s lead was short lived, however. Power was forced into the pits at the same time as Kimball with a puncture in his right rear tire, giving the lead to Newgarden, and the young Tennessean led the last fourteen laps to grab his fourth career Indycar win and his first for Penske, Dixon took his fifth second place finish at Barber and Simon Pagenaud finished third. Castroneves had a fourth and young Alexander Rossi finished a very respectable fifth. The Captain was pleased with winning three of the first five spots but you could not help but notice his concern for Power’s continuing bad luck.
As for bad luck, Andretti Auto Sports continues to be dogged with mechanical problems and driver mistakes. Rossi and Takuma Sato have been their most consistent drivers. Foyt Racing continues to be a joke with the driver and engine changes just not working. Twenty-two-year-old Zach Veach made his Indycar debut driving for Ed Carpenter and replacing injured J.R. Hildebrand. He finished 19th. Veach is scheduled to drive for Foyt Racing at the Indy 500. Scott Dixon has seven podium finishes at the Barber track including five second places, but has never won. It must really be frustrating for the New Zealander. For the ultra-competitive Will Power, the season has been one big headache so far. Let’s see if he can live up to his name and get back into a winning groove. The next race for the Indycar guys is this coming Sunday April 29th at the Phoenix Raceway in the Arizona desert and the first oval of the season.
Four and Out
For the first time in the history of the Pacers, the team was swept in the Playoffs, 4 to zip. The Pacers really did not have a chance. Cleveland did not exactly distinguish itself, seeming to play no harder than it had to to keep ahead and letting Odell carry the load. I got the feeling that they considered the Pacers a minor bump in the road and were saving themselves for the tougher teams in the later rounds. Except for game three, Paul George gave a lackluster effort and everyone played on Sunday as though they just wanted to get the game over with. George seemed exhausted at the post game press conference Monday night. To be truthful the Pacers were really lucky to make the Playoffs at all and it could get a lot worse before it gets better. A draft pick or trade really is not going to change things. The team culture of mediocrity will have to end before the team can start challenging for a championship.
The Colts and the NFL Draft
The NFL College Draft’s first round will be held this Thursday night April 27th in Philadelphia for the first time. The event will be held outdoors for the first time, also. The Cleveland Browns have the number one pick and will more than likely select pass rusher Myles Garret from Texas A & M. Garret is considered to be the most talented player available in this year’s class. At number two the San Francisco 49ers will probably pick Mitch Trubisky from North Carolina. The Bears will mostly likely pick a defender, possibly safety Jamal Adams from LSU or a defensive lineman such as Solomon Thomas from Stanford.
It’s the Colts that we are concerned with at pick fifteen. I have seen mock drafts having them pick all over the board with Wisconsin offense tackle Ryan Ramczyk and West Kentucky offensive guard Forrest Lamp being mentioned. UCLA defensive end Takkarist McKinley or Tennessee pass rusher Derek Barnett both have been named. Stanford running back Christian McCaffery is a possibility. However, I am picking Temple linebacker Haason Reddick as the Colts’ top choice. Reddick has been very impressive at the Senior Bowl, the Combine, and his pro day. He can play both inside and outside. The Colts need help at both positions and he would be a good fit with the team. Reddick is my pick for the Colts number one.
The Colts have seven picks, one in each round. There are a number of quality running backs available in this year’s draft. I look for the Colts to take one in the second round, maybe Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara. Also look for the team to draft a punter in the sixth or seventh round. They have to find a long term replacement for Pat McAfee and that will not be easy. This will be GM Chris Ballard’s first draft for the Colts. Let’s wish him the best of luck and great success.